Kerala’s “fitness priest” makes headlines
By Matters India Reporter
Chalakudy: Can religion and a great body go hand in hand?
Yes, says Father Joseph Sunny Mandakath of Irinjalakuda, a Syro-Malabar diocese in Kerala, southern India.
The 36-year-old bearded priest participated in a body building competition on February 18 organized by Bodybuilding and Fitness Association at Aranattukara Tagore Hall in Kerala’s Thrissur town.
Father Mandakath was placed in the best of ten in the “Model Physique (men’s physique)” category.
“Many of my friend priests called and congratulated me. Many told me that they are inspired to keep good physical condition and to work out,” Father Mandakath told Matters India on February 23.
He is the current vicar of Our Lady of Graces Church, Thuruthipparambu, a parish of some 290 families near Chalakudy.
“My parishioners know that I work out regularly,” he says.
The priest also said the parish promotes sports activities and its youth associates takes part in them with great enthusiasam. “We put up a new volleyball court, besides a badminton court.”
He also said these activities go along with vibrant spiritual and pastoral activities.
Son of Sunny and Glory Mandakath, he did his priestly studies from St Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Alwaye, Kerala, and Papal Seminary in Pune, Maharashtra. He was ordained a priest on December 27, 2008. He has a younger brother Thomas, who is working in Dubai as a mechanical engineer.
Father Mandakath says he believes health and fitness is as important as delivering a sermon at church.
He was always keen on body building and a healthier lifestyle. His status as a Catholic priest didn’t hold him back to follow his convictions, he said.
“I used to play basketball while in the seminary. After becoming a priest, I began to go to gym for maintaining general fitness,” the smiling priest explained.
He also said he prepared for the competition for the past five months with specific diet and workouts.
The priest thanked his gym instructor Santhosh Vaakkumchery for his success. “He is my best friend without whom I would not have gone on the stage,” he added.